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Below we tried to quantify relative level of security based on the criteria discussed above. Of course this methods has its limitations (we assume equal weight of each component of the metric and the scoring is subjective). Still I think that total scores provide some useful insights into the integral security of the OSes involved. Here are total scores for each OS. The total cores are as following:
|Red Hat||Suse||Solaris on Sparc||Solaris on Opteron||AIX||HP-UX||Windows|
While Red Hat has a better score (after all this is the dominant Linux distribution with probably 2/3 share of the Linux market), Novell is the only company that has existing rights for using Unix products, so that they can indemnify their customers against SCO and other related lawsuits; that may be a major consideration).
Windows Server 2003 would have total score 141 if we compensate for two n/a entries.
Below we will reproduce the whole matrix:
|Name||Red Hat ES||SuSE||Solaris on Ultra
|Sola-ris on Opte-ron||AIX||HP-UX on PA RISK||Win-dows Server 2003||Notes|
|Accounts and passwords security||8||8||8||8||8||7||8||Linux provides reasonable level of account security but it does not support RBAC. Some features of RBAC can be emulated via sudo that is preinstalled in both Red Hat and Suse distributions.|
|Root security||7||7||6||6||6||6||n/a||In Linux root by default has in own directory /root that improves the security of this account.|
||Linux provides an extensive set
of filesystems mounting attributes and can mount filesystem as read-only
and NOSUID. Still virtualization capabilities are very rudimentary and
here Linux is far behind leading commercial Unixes (AIX and Solaris).
Linux has only basic filesystem virtualization mechanisms (chroot)
|File Permissions||8||7||9||9||9||8||8||Some Linux filesystems like Ext3 support ACLs but quality of support of ACLs in commercial Unixes is higher. Ext3 supports BSD-style extended attributes.|
|Integrity checking||8||7||8||8||6||6||7||Linux approximately equal Solaris in integrity checking capabilities and Red Hat ships with Tripwire as an installation option. Still in Linux there is no MD5 database like in Solaris although some features of it can be emulated using RPM database.|
|Shell and scripting security||7||7||8||8||8||8||8||Neither operating system have advantages in this area but Linux has some additional vulnerabilities due to a large number of shells and scripting languages installed by default.|
|SSH support||8||8||8||8||6||6||5||Like in Solaris in Linux ssh is supported out of the box (is an installation option)|
|PAM support||9||9||8||8||6||6||5||Linux looks quite competitive with Solaris and has wider selection of PAMs then Solaris. Both of them definitely surpass AIX and HP-UX.|
|X11 security||4||4||6||6||6||6||n/a||The problems with X security on Linux are mainly due to lesser security of its desktop managers Gnome and KDE (especially Gnome).|
|TCP wrapper support||8||8||8||8||6||6||1||Linux has TCP wrapper functionality ion xnetd daemon|
|NFS||6||6||9||9||8||8||5||Linux NFS support is rudimentary and is not that stable. Solaris has a much better implementation.|
|Built-in firewall||8||8||8||8||6||6||8||Linux has a built-in firewall that is enabled by default|
|Quotas enforcement and accounting data collection||6||6||8||8||8||8||8||Commercial Unixes are still superior in this area.|
|Logging||6||6||8||8||7||7||7||All Unixes are approximately equal in this area, but Linux has better log postprocessing tools. Solaris has much better kernel based logging mechanisms that help in the debugging.|
|Patching process quality||
|8||8||Patching in Linux involves
updating the whole packages. Patching process in both Red Hat and Suse is
weaker then Solaris patching process and patching support requires
|The number of Exploits and Hacking Attacks Statistics||
|4||8||7||8||8||4||As for number exploits Linux is
less secure then commercial Unixes; it can be rated as equal in insecurity
|6||9||9||10||6||8||Solaris 10 has zones, AIX 5.3
partitions available by default.
|Kernel security||4||4||9||8||9||7||6||Security of the kernel in Linux is hampered by the number of contributors and complexity of the built process. Security-wise Linux kernel does not have capabilities of Solaris or AIX kernels.|
|4||8||8||7||7||4||Linux network security is bad due to the number of installed network applications.|
|Package management||8||7||6||6||4||4||6||RPM is an impressive package manager created by Red Hat and Red Hat RPM based packages dominate among all applications in Linux space.|
Education and Security Certifications
|9||7||8||7||7||6||10||The number of books devote to Red Hat security is considerable and by an order of magnitude surpass the number of Solaris books. Red Hat offers four security-related training courses (approximately the same as Sun for Solaris). We judge that in this area Linux surpasses all other Unixes and trails only Windows.|
Hardware Related Security Issues
|6||6||8||7||8||8||6||32 bit Intel hardware is the most hacked hardware in existence and is widely available to hackers of any country on the globe. By just switching to 64-bit hardware we can somewhat decrease hardware-related security risks.|
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